The Sounds of the Coen Brothers

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Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)

To mark the UK release of Hail, Caesar!, we present the ultimate Coen brothers playlist

From The Dude's exceptional Gutterball dance in The Big Lebowski to the Soggy Bottom Boys of O Brother, Where Art Thou? and Inside Llewyn Davies' more subtle but no less impactive ode to folk, it is safe to say that music has always played an integral role in Joel and Ethan Coen's filmmaking process. 

For the majority of their films (15 to be precise), the brothers have called upon the expertise of American composer Carter Burwell to score the original soundtracks that have now become so synonymous with their work. Burwell's experimental approach to composition, defined by the combination of a wide range of styles (from jazz to pop to classical), is perfectly suited to the Coens' unconventional approach to filmmaking. He frequently opts for unusual instrument combinations and off-kilter effects to achieved the desired result, and the brothers are happy to let him interpret the film's themes in his own unique way. "In trying to create a unique musical world for each film there is usually a combination of research, free association, and hybridization," he explained in a past interview. "For instance, there's no particular reason why Fargo had to have a Scandinavian theme, but that was an association that came out of the landscape and the names of the characters."

For Hail, Caesar!, – the Coens deliciously slapstick satirisation of 1950s Hollywood, which hits cinemas today – Burwell's ability to span multiple genres was well and truly put to the test, having to create miniature scores for the various movies being shot within the film, from a Western comedy to a Roman epic. Here, in celebration of the film's release, we present our essential Coen Brothers playlist for your listening delectation. With tracks ranging from the rock and roll, blues and country classics that interject the scores, to original songs from Burwell and, of course, the Soggy Bottom Boys. 

Hail, Caesar! is in cinemas nationwide from today.